Your upcoming movie Chyanti - in a few words, what is it about?
tells the story of Ram, a guerrilla fighter, a father and a
husband who – in the midst of the Maoist revolution – returns home to
celebrate the festival of Dashain, only to realise that if he is to feed
his family and send his daughter to school, he must sell Chyanti, the
family goat, so beloved by his daughter, Sani.
is about the relationship between a father and his daughter,
between a husband and his wife, between a human and an animal. All the
characters are fighting for false hopes.
It is about loving, seeking comfort, sacrificing and fighting for your
What were your inspirations for dreaming up the story for Chyanti,
and how did the project fall together from there?
to create a confusing emotional story and ended up finding a story about
the relationship between a human and an animal. I had this rough idea
about a family goat and a 6 years old kid, who are very close friends and
then I thought: “what if the goat needs to be sold for the need of the
family?” That is how it all started. I pitched it to my producers, they
loved it and so we started pre-production.
can you tell us about Chyanti's screenwriter Sampada Malla, and
what was your collaboration like?
She was great. She is a
very popular writer in Nepal and India. She has written many short films,
drama films, national television programs and many TV serials in
Bollywood. She is a good friend of mine and one day, I asked her if
she’d like to write this film. I pitched her the idea, she loved it and
started working on the script; she added many layers and symbols to make
it a symbolic film. I absolutely love the screenplay! She is one of the
co-producers of the film too.
shot in Nepal's Mustang region - so for the uninitiated, talk about the
region for a bit, and what was it like filming there?
was really hard to shoot and became a very expensive short film
too. I wanted to capture the beautiful mountainous landscape because
landscape is one of the characters of the film. We had to travel to a
remote Nepalese village, which was a 10-hour drive from Kathmandu.
Furthermore, there were no proper internet connection, phone signals
and electricity. Those really were the main challenges! And then, all of a
sudden, the crew started to get altitude sickness and had to be evacuated
by rescue helicopter. But it was worth it - despite all of those problems,
we completed the shoot and returned to Kathmandu safely.
would you describe your overall directorial approach to your story at
I wanted to make this film as visually interesting as
possible. That is the reason why we made the landscape, i.e. the
mountains, the river, the bridge, etc., as one of the characters of the
film. The story itself is a journey story and all of those elements were
very important. I also wanted to show originality and authenticity, so we
went to a characteristic village and filmed in a typical mountain house.
We have tried some really long single take shots, which I really like.
Working with the kids and animal was most difficult part I would say.
Please do talk about your key cast, and why
exactly these people?
We started auditioning in Kathmandu to find our main actress and
eventually selected Babita Tamang. We chose her because she had that
expression that is typical of village women; she had the voice and the
pain in her eyes that I was looking for. As for the main actors we
approached very experienced theatre actors such as Shyam Khadka and
Kaushal Pandit; they loved the script and so they got on board. We chose
Shyam Khadka because he is one of the best actors I have ever worked with.
He had the face of a warrior, the face of a Maoist guerilla fighter, the
face of a suffering father, a suffering husband, and particular physical
traits such as his hair, his beard, and his skinny face, which nicely
fitted the role. I had already worked with Shyam on my previous projects Rupees 500
and Maya and I believe no other actors could have undertaken
that role as well as he did. Shyam also had to lose weight for to play
this role, which means we controlled his diet for about 3 months, as I’d
informed him about this ¾ months prior to the shoot.
We chose Kaushal Pandit as we had already worked with him on our
previous short film Maya.
As for the role of Sani, we auditioned in Kathmandu and found Sangita
Tamang was the best candidate. Initially, the story character was a boy
but we couldn’t find a really good boy actor, so when we found Sangita,
we changed it to a girl; she was a gem - she was the best child actor I
have ever worked with!
What can you tell us about the
shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?
We worked really
long hours every day. There were a couple of days when the weather wasn’t
that great, including one day of pouring rain, which means some shots had
to be compromised; we only had 5 days to film and we had to be in time.
Also, it was sometimes too windy during the day and was therefore very
difficult to shoot; sound recording was a nightmare in these conditions.
However we got to wake up to a gorgeous mountainous view from the hotel
every morning and see it all day long while shooting. Overall I was very
happy we managed to capture the blue sky, the gorgeous mountains, the
beautiful landscape, the authentic house and the unique Nepalese culture.
I guess nature kind of helped us to tell our story.
Any idea when
and where Chyanti will be released onto the general public yet?
At the moment it is being submitted to all the prestigious film
festivals around the world. If we are lucky we will have the film screened
at those particular festivals and if you are around you can join us and
Chyanti. We will update our audience about any screening information
via our Chyanti social media page: www.facebook.com/theshortfilmchyanti
After the festivals circuit we will release the film online - probably
by the end of 2017.
future projects beyond Chyanti
you'd like to share?
are working on some horror features at the moment and plan to shoot next
summer. I can’t disclose further information though.
what I know, you got into filmmaking in a very round-about way, that also
involved you being a Gurkha soldier - so could you please elaborate, and
also talk about your training as a filmmaker?
To be honest
I was trained as a Gurkha soldier in the British Armed Forces. I had this
passion and dream to tell stories, which I did as much as I could while in
the forces. I taught myself by reading books, online articles, and
watching YouTube videos – via the Internet to be honest. And so when the
right time came and I thought I just had to do this properly, I left the
armed forces and joined film school and graduated last year. I am more
confident to call myself a proper filmmaker and storyteller now.
course also have to talk about your rather impressive graduation short Maya
for a bit!
Maya features three young children who are forced to live on the
streets in Kathmandu and work at a brick factory to survive. Their dream
is to build a home of their own with the bricks they make.
A couple of years ago, when I went to Nepal, I took a picture of some
street kids sleeping next to dogs. I spoke to them on one of the following
days and they told me they were homeless, but they still had those dreams,
those hopes of being happy, of having a good life. And after that day, I
told myself I wanted to make a film about street children, who - despite
their horrible situation - still had simple and beautiful hopes and dreams.
Maya is very personal film to me. We were shooting the film 4 weeks
before the earthquake in 2015. Some very important landmarks and buildings
were captured in the film and unfortunately later destroyed by the
earthquake. So the film’s poignant storyline has even more significance, given
the immense task of reconstruction that lies ahead of the Nepalese people.
After finding about the earthquake, the team decided to cancel crowd
funding plans and raise money for the children affected in Nepal instead.
The second trailer was released at the same time as our fundraiser helping
us to raise over $2,100 with the funds going to CHANCE for Nepal, Freedom
Matters and Maiti Nepal. At the same time we raised $1,300 to help build a
new earthquake proof home for our production manager, Shyam Khadka, who's
family home had collapsed in the quake.
What can you tell us about your other
filmwork prior to Chyanti, and your evolution as a director?
be honest I have tried all genres apart from comedy. I made a horror short
film - Apartment 41 - and put it on YouTube and all of the sudden there
were like nearly 400,000 viewers and I was like ‘people love horror!’.
Then I made a drama film, Maya, which festivals loved. So I’ve now sort
of come to the conclusion that my strengths mainly lie in the drama and
horror genres. I think I can make people cry and scare people haha. Those
are the genres I’d like to start with for feature films!
who inspire you?
Christopher Nolan, Alejandro Inarritu,
James Wan, Roman Polanski.
Your favourite movies?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
The King's Speech, The Conjuring 2, The Pianist, 21
Grams, Metro Manila.
and of course, films you really deplore?
Not really, I like
movie's website, Facebook, whatever else?
YouTube: www.youtube.com/veemsenlama (I upload a
new story every week and most of my films are there to watch for free)
you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
one message to any aspiring filmmakers, storytellers and dreamers: You are
in charge of your dreams, which means you are the only person who can stop
it. Nobody can stop your dream and nobody can stop you from telling your
stories. Just go, do it and tell your stories. Take action. Action creates
results! So best of luck!
for the interview!
Thank you so much Michael for giving me the opportunity to
share my story with your readers and thanks for supporting independent
filmmakers - you guys are doing a great thing!
courtesy of Javiya Films - http://www.javiyafilms.com/